Posted by: Shanna Germain | 08/06/2009

Pg. 128: Standing Stone-Still

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Standing stones. They’re much bigger than they look.

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Stats:

  • Weather: Gorgeously sunny and breezy. It was a beautiful day for getting out and exploring the Isle.
  • Mileage: I’m afraid to ask. Five miles, six?
  • Food: I’ll tell you tomorrow, when I share pictures and the recipe.
  • Discovery: The whole day was a discovery.
  • Media: This video, courtesy of my little brother (he’s 18. and blond). I spit out my mocha.
  • Worst Thing: Woods. Ferns. Tall grasses. Gah!
  • Best Thing: Being surprised by everything.
  • Word of the Day: Faff. To dither away, esp. time. Also, futz and diddle. As in, “I spent the day faffing about on the Internet.” Can also be used as a noun. As in, “There’s too much faff.”

*

So, today’s plan was to find St. Blane’s Chapel, since it’s been on the to-see list forever, and it was just the right kind of day for a return to hiking and sightseeing. But, I don’t read maps as well as I thought (ahem) and the Scottish paths are never very well marked to begin with, so the plan got itself all turned around.

I’m going to blame it on the lack of obvious path. This has happened to me before. Today’s version went like this: Off the bus at the little coastal town where the path is suppose to start, smelling beautifully of citronella spray (okay, really, choking on it, because I sprayed it a bit too vigorously on my pant legs and I think I might have stunk up the whole bus. But now they are all protected from ticks by proxy, and they should thank me, unless of course, their spouse thinks it’s some stranger’s perfume and they are accused of committing adultery, in which case the natural bug spray in my bag is not really mine, I’m just holding it for a friend).

Where were we before that segue? Oh, right, off the bus, in the coastal little town, looking for the path that is on the map. No sign of the path. Not here or here or here. Then, hm… is that a sign? Maybe it was once. So you take it up past houses and a beautiful garden and into the woods. There is a little switch-back and a gate, and you’re thinking, “oh, perfect, I found it,” and you’re walking along, “la-dee-dah, ooh, pretty,” for about a quarter mile or so, and then, bam, out of nowhere, the path disappears completely, leaving you stranded in knee-high ferns and sucking wet mud and about a hundred acres of nothing in front of you.

Lost. In. Tickville.

Yep.

Just where I want to be.

After a few minutes of soul-searching, I decided that no, I really couldn’t attempt to walk through what I knew were tick-infested greeneries without actually knowing a. where I was going and b. that I would end up where I wanted to be. So, back down to the road, a check for ticks and then off to see if I could actually find something that resembled the path that appeared on my map (well-marked and wide as a house on my piece of paper, I might add).

There was a potential cut-through, from one road to the other, which seemed passable, and I got halfway through it (which, I should add, means about half a mile in) and realized I was sweating. Not from the heat, but from the conditions. Mud, ferns, overhanging trees, tall grass, midges swarming about my head. I was practically screaming, “Come and bite me, ticks!” despite the overwhelming smell of citronella. To say I could feel my heart thumping is not to do my poor, terrified heart justice. I’ve never been so happy to see a road ahead of me through the trees. And if I said that I ran the whole rest of the way and then laid down and kissed the asphalt, before jumping up quickly, stripping nude and checking every crack of my body for creepy crawlies… well, can you blame me? (Although, possibly, the very nice couple in the little red car who passed me while I was pretzeling to do my tick-check are probably blaming me for many things, not the least of which is the glare off my incredibly white butt which might have made them swerve into a cow-patty filled ditch, to which I say, “I’m very sorry, nice couple in the red car, but it had to be done!”).

After all that stress, I was exhausted, panting, sweat-coated and hungry. Which meant there was no way I was going to make another four miles to see the Chapel. So I munched on a ginger cookie and headed back down the road into what I assumed would be a town.

About halfway there, a small sign read, “Standing Stones,” and pointed to a very wide, very well-marked and non-grassed path (which, I should add, ran parallel to the Horrible Path of Doom (as it shall now be called, and I’ve written it that way on my map to remind myself of how bad it was, should I ever forget) and basically would have gotten me from point A to point B without all the stress). I took this Wonderful Path of Hope and there were the standing stones.

The stones are believed to be remnants of a stone circle built around 1500 BC. There are three more stones buried in the forest behind the three that are visible here, plus three more than you can see in the skyline if you look west. As of yet, no one knows why they are here or what they were used for, although most people guess that they were some sort of meeting place, a ceremonial site or a place for observing the stars and heavens. And best of all, not a single ticky-looking piece of grass, fern or overhanging tree.

So, I may have missed St. Blane’s Chapel today, but, as so often happens, I stumbled upon something equally wondrous. What did you stumble on today?

Far and fast, s.

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This stone actually has a metal implement that holds it up (you can kind of see it in the picture) because it leans pretty heavily to one side.

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“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” ~Mark Jenkins

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Responses

  1. “the glare off my incredibly white butt”

    Full moon, right on schedule!

    • LOL! Well, I -was- communing with nature 🙂

  2. Oh hon! You make me laugh. I’ll need to come over and show you St Blane’s. It’s too far to walk, I think, but it’s a lovely place. Glad you found the stones though.

    Also – forget the citronella. Avon Skin so Soft – the only thing that works. Really, the army use it!

    • -snickers- Well, it says on the West Island Way map that I can walk it. If I could find the bloody West Island Way!!!

      And can I buy SsS here? I haven’t seen it. Thought it was one of those by mail only things?

  3. ::laughs and laughs:: Reminds me of trying to find some standing stones near where we lived in Wales. I tromped up that hill several times, both alone and with friends, and never found them. And I had to deal with spiders.

    Ah, signposting and directions in Britain…all part of the grand adventure!

    • LOL, Dayle! You meanie! Stop laughing…

      -can’t stop laughing herself-

      Well, at least I found something. Even if it wasn’t what I was looking for… Story of my life 🙂

  4. Yep, you’ll get skinsosoft in camping shops, probably the fishing tackle shop, etc.

  5. […] Friends were here for the weekend, and it was joyous and fun and we all ate too much and some of us drank too much. And some…er one of us chipped a teeth on a wine glass, and then said, “The wine glass is fine!” before realising that it wasn’t bits of glass in in our mouth, it was bits of tooth. (Yeah, yeah, that someone was me. It’s a small chip, out of one of my incisors. Makes me look all tough. I swear it.). We played Boggle and talked a lot and we ate candies and glorified rice and mushrooms and a million other things. We took a walk in the seriously pouring rain, heads down, water dripping in our eyes. We even made it all the way up the hill to see Saint Blane’s! […]


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